Vineyards

grapes and snips

You may have heard this before: great wine is made in the vineyard. Our winemaker, Jay DeWitt, is the 4th generation of his family to farm in this area. Jay is in the vineyards throughout the year with his crew, pruning, trellising, and monitoring for pests. Spending this time in the vineyard creates the quality grapes from which we start our winemaking.

Per Jay & Doug, “it’s the grapes, silly.” (Beware, you may see this on a t-shirt at our winery one day.)

We invite you to take a virtual tour of our vineyards below and discover how the unique terroir of each vineyard contributes to the complexity of our wines.

 

vineyard in autumn

Minnick Hills

ORIENTATION
The vineyard lies 2 miles north of Walla Walla at the point where the valley transitions to rolling hills. Elevation is between 1050 and 1200 feet, and the land slopes to the south and west.

SOIL COMPOSITION
The soil is extremely diverse. A healthy dose of volcanic ash that was deposited following the eruption of Mt. Mazama 7700 years ago dominates the bottom portion of the vineyard soil. This eruption formed the caldera in Southern Oregon now known as Crater Lake. At a depth of three feet there is a layer of undisturbed ash that is 6 inches thick. This soil has the same texture and smell as ash cleaned out of a fireplace.

Loess deposited by wind provides topsoil for the hillside and at the top of the hill lies a knob of clay. It is rare to find such a diversity of soil types in one spot, which is why Jay & Doug can make an exceptionally complex wine from a single vineyard.

AIR DRAINAGE & RAINFALL
The site also has excellent air drainage, which reduces the risk of frost damage. Rainfall averages 16 inches annually, so a small amount of supplemental irrigation is provided via drip system.

Because of the diversity of soil and differences in the microclimates—from the top of the hill to the bottom—the vineyard must be closely managed. Jay’s experience with this particular piece of ground began while changing sprinkler pipes when he was 12 years old, and this experience and respect for the terroir can be tasted in the wines produced at Dumas Station.

Birch Creek

This vineyard is located near the Walla Walla River at the southern end of the Walla Walla Valley, at an elevation level of 850 feet. It is a relatively warm site that ripens earlier than our other vineyards. The first vines were planted in 1993 and it is older than most of the vineyards in the Walla Walla Appellation. Soil structure in the vineyard is sandy loam with random spots of calcium carbonate. The age of these vines provide a nice tannic structure to the resulting red wines.

Breezy Slope

This vineyard sits near the base of the Blue Mountains, southwest of the city of Walla Walla. At 1650 feet in elevation, it is one of the higher vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley Appellation. The soil is a rich but shallow clay loam. Because of the hillside where the vineyard is oriented, air is constantly in motion at this site, often changing directions every few minutes. This has the effect of cooling the grapes on the hottest days, and allows us to expose the clusters to more direct sunlight.

Walla Walla AVA

Facts about the Walla Walla Valley AVA from the Washington Wine Commission:

  • It was established in 1984, as the second AVA in Washington State
  • Grape growing began in the Walla Walla Valley in the 1850s by Italian immigrants
  • Cabernet Sauvignon leads the pack in terms of grapes grown
  • Growing season of 190 to 220 days, with annual rainfall averaging 12.5 inches per year

Map of Washington State AVAs including our estate vineyards